The Pentera Blog

More Nonprofits Receive Bequests, and the Average Bequest Size Is Up

More nonprofits are receiving bequests and the average size of bequests is higher, according to a new survey from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative.

The Winter 2018 Nonprofit Fundraising Survey is part of a survey series published every six months. The most recent survey found that only 6% of nonprofits received no bequests in 2017, down from 10% the year before.

The survey also found that 69% of nonprofits surveyed received bequests averaging $25,000 or more in 2017—up significantly from 54% the year before. All of the higher dollar categories for average bequests showed an increase (See chart).

Percent of Nonprofits Receiving Bequests Averaging $25,000 or More in 2017
Source: Winter 2018 Nonprofit Fundraising Survey

The greatest increase was in bequests averaging between $100,000 and $250,000—up to 18% from 13% the year before.

While bequest numbers for a year are sometimes skewed by a few large bequests, that is not the case in this survey because the higher dollar categories were up across the board. As expected when the higher categories go up, the lower dollar categories went down: for instance, only 3% of the nonprofits had a bequest average of $5,000 or less, down from 10% the previous year. The findings dovetail with other recent research predicting that bequests will increase this year and next.

The complete 43-page survey, which includes many fundraising findings not specific to planned giving, is available at